The Church’s One Foundation

10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation… 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 3:10-11

Let me begin by trying to get your attention. Let me begin by stating that the foundation of the church is weakness and foolishness.

I am so glad I was able to state that.

Every structure has to have a foundation. Actually, every thing has a foundation. But it cannot just be any foundation. The firmer the foundation, the easier and more securely the structure which is built on that foundation will rest. The structures or things that we see in the natural that have been built by God are unspeakably secure. We see them: the planets and galaxies in the cosmos; the sun and the stars. They are immovable. Even the mighty ocean cannot overcome the boundaries that God has set for it, even though all the world’s rivers, both mighty and small, have been flowing into it for thousands of years.

One can add so many things to this list. All these things have a foundation, and it is this foundation that makes them secure and immovable.

This is incomparably more so in the Spirit. If God can secure His creation in the natural to the extent that we see with our natural eyes, how much more would He do for the things of the Spirit, which are of far much more value to Him? You can therefore imagine just how strong the foundations of the things of the Spirit are. Chief amongst these things – the thing He values above all – is the gospel. This is the singular thing which God was willing to give His Son to die for.

(Don’t you think that for this reason we ought to take a moment to reflect and thank God that it was for us that He did this incredible act of selflessness.)

The gospel  of Jesus Christ has a foundation, thank God!! And what, pray, is this foundation?

It is Jesus Christ Himself, Christ crucified. The minute you remove the word “crucified” you have removed the foundation from under the gospel, and that gospel will crumble like a card of sticks.

Thankfully, “Christ crucified” was the foundation that the Apostle Paul lay in the Corinthian church when he first preached the Good News to them. When Paul uses the words “wise masterbuilder” to describe himself, he is not seeking after our accolades. Rather, he is stating a spiritual fact which is so important for the church. He is stating the wisdom of God.

Paul directed the Corinthians to the cross. He told them to accept sufferings for the gospel’s sake, and to crucify self, to the end that the life of Christ might be found in them.

“1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:1-2)

“… we preach Christ crucified”. (1 Cor. 1:23)

Paul told the Corinthians to accept to become weak, and foolish. What a challenge! But the Corinthians rose up to it, and Paul left behind a strong, holy and united church in Corinth. Everyone had surrendered their lives to Christ.

What a strong foundation the Apostle Paul had laid! For as long as the Corinthians stood on this foundation, they were safe and secure. Since they had denied themselves and taken up their cross, it was the easiest thing for them, in everything, to find themselves standing together “in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).

Wow! What a testimony!

It is not easy for any number of people to stand together “in the same mind and in the same judgment”. Human nature simply cannot allow that. But with God all things are possible. With “Christ crucified” firmly enthroned in our hearts, it is so much possible!

But not long after Paul left them, the Corinthians began listening to other doctrines and teachings. Probably they heard the gospel of prosperity, who knows? Or a gospel of law and prescriptions. They could have heard any number of strange gospels. But it is clear they were no longer adhering to the gospel that Paul left them with, “Christ crucified”. For this reason, they came off the foundation of the cross.

And now they were no longer secure! Now there was war, fraction, and every kind of evil work amongst them.  They had come off the only secure place God had given them; the revelation of the cross in their hearts had been darkened. And now they were on another, different foundation, which was fast crumbling.

The church today cannot expect to become spiritual without this revelation in our hearts. There is no other way, and there is no shortcut. The words of the Apostle Paul, backed by the authority of God:

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

It is a foundation of weakness and foolishness… weakness and foolishness with Christ.

[True unity in church can only come about through a revelation of the cross in our hearts]

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Called… To The Cross

22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after widom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 1 Cor. 1:22-24

Someone asked me why so many people who profess to follow Christ end up in clearly unbiblical churches. Quite specifically, he asked, “Why doesn’t God reveal to them the gospel which the Apostle Paul preached, the gospel of the cross? How come so few believers seem to understand this gospel of the cross?”

I had also struggled with this same question, but at the exact time that the brother asked it of me, God gave me the answer. Actually, I realized the answer had been lying in open sight right in front of both our eyes all along; yet we had never been able to see it.

At that very moment, I answered the brother, “The Bible says that God reveals the understanding of the cross to those He calls. That’s what it says right there: ‘But unto them which are called…‘”

In every generation, the people whom God has called to Him have learned to deny themselves, to take up their cross, and follow Christ. That was exactly the command that Christ gave to those whom God would call.

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mat. 16:24)

These believers were not taught in Bible class to deny themselves. They did not have even have beautifully designed blogs like this one that talked about the cross. On the contrary, the ‘education’ of the cross came to them naturally, by the power of the Holy Spirit in them. They were taught by the Holy Spirit. They learned through God to live the crucified life.

As I said, this grace is there in every generation. Even today, God is calling men and women to Him, and when He calls them to Himself, the Holy Spirit teaches them to deny themselves. (Even in the lowest of periods, God has always had a remnant – 1 Ki. 19:18). And so we must question whether a ‘church’ that is running merely after miracles, signs and wonders – a church that would want to make this ministry the bona fide calling of God – is truly of God.

It is very telling that in all the apostolic epistles nowhere does the Bible mention miracles, signs and wonders; certainly not to the extent that the church today would want to trumpet these things. Rather, the New Testament emphasis is on the cross. Little wonder, then, that Paul could boldly state:

“22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after widom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified…”

Paul could simply have said, “We preach Christ crucified…” without dragging in the beliefs of the Jews and the Gentiles. But Paul was no PC idealist. On the contrary, he wanted to make it clear to the church that the only gospel that had any impact on the spiritual lives of believers was the gospel of the cross, the gospel that would teach believers to follow Christ in denying themselves through taking up their cross. Any other gospel – including the gospel of signs and wonders – has zero impact on the spiritual lives of believers.

Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul says:

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” (1 Cor. 1:17)

The subject of Paul’s statement here is the cross of Christ, or, rather, the power that was in the cross of Christ. He says he preached to the end that the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

Again, any other gospel has nothing to offer to the man or woman who would be spiritual.

Now, in this materialistic generation, where people are going to church to “receive” and to be “blessed” in Jesus’ Name, the cross cannot but be set aside in favour of the gospels of signs and wonders. At the other end of the spectrum are those who love to have their grey cells tickled. For these the doctrine of human wisdom takes precedence.

We need to become un-politically correct and ask this modern-day church: Is it too hard a thing for we believers to agree with the Bible? Is it really just too hard to side with Jesus’s command? Or with what the Apostle Paul and all the other apostles taught?

And now, to end…

[The church is not a place for miracles. It is a place for the church to mature and be perfected]

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Only One Gospel!

Today I would like us to consider Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”

The Apostle Paul says here that he would not preach any other gospel to the Corinthians “save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”! But he also says something else. He says that his preaching of the gospel was not done through “excellency of speech or of wisdom”.

Let us look at a few other scriptures in relation to this.

In 1 Samuel 16:7 God tells the Prophet Samuel that “…the LORD looketh on the heart”.

And in 1 Corinthians 1:20 we read that God has made foolish the wisdom of this world.

When you put all these statements together you arrive at two conclusions:

  1. God has only one gospel for us;
  2. God is not going to use our brains or our human wisdom to reveal His plan and purpose for our lives. God uses the heart. The heart is God’s workplace. In other words, God wants to change our hearts. We are what our hearts are. If our hearts are touched and changed by God, then we are changed. We become truly new creatures in Christ.

If we are not changed on the inside, we remain the same, old selves. We might have many things on the outside and appear to be rich spiritually, but the cold fact remains that we are unchanged. We could even have big ministries but God is not interested in that. In fact, we should be careful not to measure our status with God according to any external thing that we might have or that we could be doing.

There are things that have to do with our hearts and this is all that God is interested in. Purity of heart, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal 5:22-23) – these are the truly major issues with God.

The catch with mainstream Christianity is that it is the easiest thing to agree with this sentiment mentally, but it is an entirely different thing to live that life. Christians are struggling with these things every day of their lives! Keeping our hearts pure is not so easy after all! We need to experience Christ’s death in our lives daily so that His grace may be found in us.

Apparently, there were other gospels the Apostle Paul could have preached in his day. But he chose to preach only one – the gospel he knew had the power to change people on the inside.

When this revelation is lacking in our hearts, we console ourselves that we are okay even as we chase after other gospels which do not benefit our souls.

Paul, as Saul, was one of the most learned men of his day in the things of God. And yet, in the first chapter of Galatians he reveals that during the time that he thought he knew everything about God, it was at that very moment that he was persecuting the Church of Jesus Christ! He had all the head knowledge concerning God, but his heart remained unchanged. He was still an ordinary man, full of pride, anger, malice and hatred.

What was lacking? Paul answers this by declaring that the change in his life came after he received a revelation of the crucified Jesus Christ. Mark you, it was not a vision, but a revelation. In his spirit, he understood that Jesus died so that he, too, could identify with Him in that death in order to be found with Him in His life! And since this revelation was a work of the Spirit of God, there was a power that came with it to effect that change in Paul. It was a work so powerful that it conquered the sin nature in Paul’s life.

There are many different gospels being preached today; but it is difficult to find a gospel that deals with the issues of the heart of man. Many deal with the emotions of men. The heart is left untouched. People hear a gospel, but they are left still carrying loads of bitterness, unforgiveness, hatred, fear and many other un-Godly things. They jump and scream on hearing ‘powerful’, charismatic sermons, but they go home and live defeated lives. Pride – the true self in man – is destroying many Christians’ lives. Because the gospel they are hearing is not a revelation, these people’s hearts remain untouched – and their lives remain unchanged.

If victory over self and sin is lacking in our lives, then no matter what other ‘victories’ we may have we still are far short of the mark.

God is not going to change our hearts – and our lives – through head knowledge, or any other gospel apart from the gospel that the Apostle Paul received, which is the gospel of the Cross of Jesus Christ.